Forty-eight adult striped bass Morone saxatilis (3.2-19.1 kg) were captured by electrofishing in the tailrace of Richard B. Russell Dam and in the upper reaches of two major tributaries; they were implanted with temperature-sensitive radio transmitters and tracked approximately bimonthly for 20 months. As J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir downstream from the dam became thermally stratified in May, fish vacated the tributaries. From June to October, all striped bass were found within the reservoir's historical Savannah River channel. By August, most of the instrumented fish were found in the upper section of the reservoir, where optimal habitat was available throughout the summer owing to cool, artificially oxygenated hypolimnetic discharges from Richard B. Russell Dam. In mid-October the reservoir destratified, and fish dispersed from their up-reservoir summering areas and redistributed themselves throughout the reservoir. During early winter, the striped bass returned to tributary habitat or down-reservoir areas and generally used these locations throughout the winter. The fish exhibited a high degree of site fidelity to their summering areas, source tributaries (after fall dispersal and throughout the winter), and spring spawning areas. Mean movement rates were highest in the spring and fall, corresponding to the migration from tributaries in May and the return migration after fall dispersal. Mean movement rates were lowest in summer and winter, corresponding to the periods of high fidelity to summering and wintering areas. The average monthly temperatures and dissolved oxygen concentrations in areas used by striped bass were 19.0-20.4??C and 4.86-6.44 mg/L during May-October, which corresponded to average monthly habitat suitability index values of 0.76-0.98. Striped bass avoided temperatures above 25.1??C and dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 2.3 mg/L.
Additional publication details
Striped bass annual site fidelity and habitat utilization in J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, South Carolina-Georgia